Capital Fringe Review: ‘Fallbeil’ by JR Russ

Fallbeil, presented by Field Trip Theatre, is a must-see theatrical piece. Written by Liz Maestri and directed by Nick Vargas, Fallbeil is a historical fantasy centered around the friendship between the ghost of Sophie Scholl and the living Else. Both German women are affected by the major conflict and war of their times, as they struggle to deal with mortality, both their own and their loved ones.

Playwright Liz Maestri.
Playwright Liz Maestri.

The piece in directly brings up a variety of questions, including what is the fine line between being a dumbass and a hero, how do we connect to our present through our past, and what does it meant to be a friend. And the cast and the production team address all this and more in a wonderfully crafted and paced presentation. The set and props, designed by Stephen Strosnider, were simple yet effective in defining place for all the scenes. And transitions are particularly well crafted, thanks to the underscoring provided by sound designer and composer Palmer Hefferan.

And the cast. Chelsey Christensen (Sophie Scholl) played her part well, particularly in juggling the modern day circumstances of her character’s afterlife, but bouncing back and forth between past and present in a really ingenious and effective plot device. Angie Tennant (Else) & Josh Adams (Karl) shined in their own individual roles, but are particularly brilliant when together, with pacing (among other things) making you believe you were watching two friends who had known each other for a lifetime. Kevin Collins (Hans) and Matthew Hirsh (Fritz/Interrogator) round out the cast filled with stellar performances, as well ,and they balance out the ideological conflict of the other characters.

In case you didn’t know, ‘Fallbeil’ is what the guillotine is called in German, which translates to ‘falling axe.’ And before you know it, you are indeed waiting for the proverbial axe to fall in the show, but not in a way that becomes unbearable. One in which we continue to learn more about each character, as we keep the company on their journey. And while they examine their own beliefs and relationships, one can’t help but examine his/her own, even after the final bow.

Running Time: 90 minutes. 

Fallbeil runs through July 27, 2013 at the Mountain – at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church – 900 Massachusetts Avenue NW, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.

2013 Capital Fringe Preview: Interview with ‘Fallbeil’ Playwright Liz Maestri by Cate Brewer.



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